Updated: 12/25/2019As you can imagine, being an Oktoberfest tour guide in Munich and attending various other German festivals here and there, I get asked one particular question over and over and that is: “What is that on your face?” After explaining that I’ve been eating Nutella-filled crêpes with the voracity of a hungry lioness, I end up answering question after question on how to dress for Oktoberfest.
- What do you wear?
- Well, where did you get it?
- What’s it called again?
- Do you have to wear that?
Answering all of these I almost always end up giving away too much information on my cup size. This post will be no different.
Psst, join one of my Oktoberfest tours here! We just won Festivals & Events Tour of the Year from Tour Radar!
HOW TO DRESS FOR OKTOBERFEST
I’m usually not one for giving fashion advice as you can tell by this post, this post, and like, every single photo of me on this blog. And the fact that I think I’m wearing men’s socks right now but I’m not entirely sure. But if there’s one thing I know (there is actually only one thing I know) it’s how to dress for Oktoberfest.
Turns out I love being asked about this time after time because, besides the fact that a dirndl is my absolute favorite thing to wear, I finally feel like one of the cool kids and not the dweeb who accidentally wore the same shirt for yearbook photos three years in a row. (True story. Moving on.)
However, I’d like to be perfectly clear here–I don’t know shit about lederhosen. This post is just for you, girl–even though I may have misled you having mentioned my boobies in the first paragraph.
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DO YOU HAVE TO WEAR A DIRNDL TO OKTOBERFEST?
Officially? No. Wear whatever you want. Jeans and a t-shirt are fine. Unofficially? Yes, godammit. Don’t you dare wear jeans and a t-shirt.
I can recall one, maybe two people not dressed up among the THOUSANDS at Oktoberfest and you know what? It’s almost offensive. Like, how dare you show up here with your pants and lack of cleavage. How. Dare. You. I can’t imagine it’s any fun being that one dinkus who shows up to your boss’s house thinking it’s a costume party when it’s not–and the same goes for the reverse. Don’t be the opposite of a fool in a chicken suit at a formal office party.
WHAT TO WEAR FOR OKTOBERFEST
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the traditional Bavarian dress worn at Oktoberfest by women and a select few dudes (you’ll see…) is known as a dirndl. At its most basic it consists of a dress, an apron, and a white shirt–the term “shirt” being used very, very loosely despite the garment’s sheer death grip. It’s a tight boob cover with sleeves.
HOW TO DRESS FOR OKTOBERFEST: ANATOMY OF A DIRNDL
Like any anatomy lesson worth its weight in formaldehyde, we’re gonna dissect this sum’bitch from head to toe. Even though my toes got cut off in the picture.
Here’s what you’ll need:
…whose primary function, I can only assume, is simply to cover up your bra. In some cases however it may be used as a backup source of support to the goods inside trying their damnedest to liberate themselves. PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS–itty bitty living space.
Most often you’ll see blouses in white though they come in just about any color/pattern/material a pretzel-loving girl could ask for. I personally have 5 white ones and 1 black one to go with my little black dirndl. I have them in cotton, I have them in polyester, and I have them in lace. Your options are endless! See some examples here:
One basic silhouette (a fashion word I learned from getting married), varying lengths and materials, infinite designs and colors. Is really good at hiding all evidence of excess beer consumption. Looks good on every body–yes, even yours.
More on where to buy and how to wear dirndls, below.
…because sometimes the fashion gods throw us a bone.
Flat, black, comfortable, don’t mind getting beer spilled on them. As I’ve said in like every single blog post, I’m obsessed with Skechers memory foam shoes and I have a pair (or two) for Oktoberfest as well. Oktoberfest is dancing, walking, standing all the live long day so wear the closest thing you can get to house slippers. Here are my 2019 picks for you:
⇢ And here those are on Amazon in case you’ve also got some Ziplock bags and cat treats to buy…
However, for 2018 I mixed it up and went with a pair of black booties similar to this pair from Lulus. I was there for two whole weeks and I didn’t want to wear the same pair of shoes everyday. (Plus I love the look of booties + dirndl.) And yes, I totally put a pair of memory foam insoles inside them.
In 2014 it was cold so I wore knee socks. In 2016 it was hot so I didn’t. Rocket science. What will happen at Oktoberfest 2019? Who knows! Stay tuned…
Cute-sy, lacy knee socks are totally acceptable when deciding how to dress for Oktoberfest and either black or white ones will do. Something like…
Regardless of the weather, you’ll still want to wear socks because… gross. With your flats you’ll want, at the very least, some no-show black socks.
In a continuing effort to NOT star in America’s next viral video, anytime the combination of a dress and dancing on benches is concerned, I wear boyshorts underneath. Call me a prude or an old hag, just don’t call me “Drunk Chick at Oktoberfest Falls Off Bench and Shows Crowd Her Hoo-ha”.
Keep. It. Simple. This is not a Mr. T look-alike contest. You are (probably) not an eccentric 75-year-old woman with a fur collection and a bank account that won’t quit. But with all that open chest space (insert correct fashion term here), your neck needs a little sumpin’.
I like to represent for the gluten gluttons of the world with a small pretzel necklace and a simple gold cuff to match with the coordinates to one of my favorite earthly places–Munich, Germany.
Here are some of my favorite pretzel necklaces from Amazon:
There are so many freaking adorable Oktoberfest hairstyles out there–braids and buns and pigtails and fishtails–but my dexterity is comparable to a penguin wearing oven mitts so I just let it hang. Will someone please come to my house and do this to me? I mean, there’s also this braided headband shortcut while we’re on the topic. Don’t be like me; don’t let it just hang. And speaking of not letting things hang…
Maybe you need a lil’ help in this category, maybe you don’t. Maybe you have all those glorious back problems I’ve always dreamed of, maybe you look like a boy in a bandeau. If you’re in Group A (AKA Group DD), continue on to the next section.
If you’re here with me in the group that had to have TWO sets of padded cups sewn into her strapless wedding gown, listen up. Before my first Oktoberfest I walked into Victoria’s Secret and asked the salesperson, “Aiight. How much cleavage can you get me?” She replied, “OOOH, honey.” And thus a beautiful, everlasting, semi-pornographic relationship with the Bombshell was born. Hello there D squad; mama’s home.
Still need a boost? A LOT of my readers also purchase this Magic Bra Shaper to complete the look. (I particularly love the diagram that shows how it works–5th photo down.) I haven’t tried one myself, but I just purchased this one and this one and I’m going to see how I like them. Verdict to come!
HOW TO DRESS FOR OKTOBERFEST: IN COLD WEATHER
Some years at Oktoberfest the weather is sunny and beautiful and the outdoor beer gardens are overflowing (that is why they moved Oktoberfest up to September once upon a time, by the way). But some years it’s rainy and cold or downright arctic. Here are some optional cold-weather additions to consider:
I HATE being cold, especially when I have to wear a dress. On some occasions I’ve worn knee socks like I mentioned, but last year I tried something new: I wore a petticoat. My petticoat kept my butt and legs warm, was extremely comfortable, and super fun to wear because you can twirl all day.
- You can buy them on Amazon: like this one available in black, white and many other colors
- But the one I personally wear is this one from Rare Dirndl–also available in both black and white.
Regardless of how cold it may be outside at Oktoberfest, inside the beer tents you’re going to warm up–fast. So, should you bring a jacket at all? OH HELL YES. Just remember to think in thin layers you don’t mind getting beer spilled on, sauerkraut dropped on, or your chicken hands wiped on. It’s hard being classy sometimes.
Some examples of sweater options for Oktoberfest would be:
HOW TO WEAR YOUR DIRNDL
Keep in mind this is coming from the girl who, nine times out of ten, can’t tell whether she’s trying on a skirt or a shirt. Last week I wore FIVE shirts and a winter coat all the way from Amsterdam to America because I couldn’t close my suitcase.
So there are a handful of unspoken rules to dirndl-wearing at Oktoberfest and two handfuls if you’re doing it right.
DO NOT WEAR A HALLOWEEN COSTUME
For the love of all that is good and pure, do not wear a halloween costume to Oktoberfest. Dirndls are sexy enough as-is; there’s no need to invite slutty beer wench to the party. Oktoberfest is a merry celebration where friendly, kind-hearted people from all over the world come together to celebrate their love of beer and Bavarian culture in a warm and welcoming environment. But we will judge the crap out of you.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR DIRNDL BE?
On a similar note–actually, most of these steer you in the direction of being not skanky–your dirndl should fall somewhere between the tops of your knees and your ankles*. Nobody wants to see your schnitzel.
*Unless you’re incredibly short like me and look vaguely like an Amish woman on her way to milk a cow in anything below the knee.
DO YOU NEED THE BLOUSE?
Please. Wear. The blouse. Or perhaps consider taking a page from Anita Appleby‘s acclaimed book Of Course You’re Still Single, Take a Look at Yourself You Dumb Slut. You’re an embarrassment to intelligent women everywhere.
Also, a dirndl dress should never go under your ta-tas. Let the Bombshell do all the pushing-up. That’s what it was genetically bred in a secret laboratory on Venus to do.
HOW YOU TIE YOUR DIRNDL APRON MATTERS
You can’t just put that bow any ol’ place, girl. Where on your body you tie your bow implies your relationship status and level of willingness to allow some guy to buy you an oversized gingerbread cookie that says “eat me.”
- Tie the bow on your right — you’re taken. “Thanks for the cookie. My husband loves gingerbread.”
- Tie the bow on your left — you’re single. “Come to mama!”
- Tie the bow front and center — you’re a virgin. “GIMME THAT DAMN COOKIE!”
- Tie the bow in the back — you’re a waitress. “I only accept cash, sonny.”
See? I’ve tied my bow on my right–that means I’m taken. I’m also shooting bullseyes so that means I’m also a force to be reckoned with so you better just hand over the cookie so nobody gets hurt.
This guy has tied his apron in the middle. As if we needed the secret bow signal to tell us he’s a virgin.
I made a video to illustrate this very point! Did you catch it at the beginning of this post?
WHERE TO BUY DIRNDLS FOR OKTOBERFEST
Before I answer this there’s a question you need to ask yourself: when will you be buying your dirndl? Before your trip or after you’ve arrived in Munich? There are pros and cons to each just as there are pros and cons to accepting sugary treats from strangers.
BUYING YOUR DIRNDL BEFORE YOUR TRIP
PROS OF PURCHASING AHEAD OF TIME
- Dirndl prices on the internet are much lower than they are in Germany during Oktoberfest.
- You’ll have plenty of time for any needed alterations. I purchased my 2016 dirndl online and had to get the skirt taken up a few inches because Amish and the bust taken in a, ahem, few feet. Small boobs, big dreams–I always say.
I also had to sew on a pocket because my new dirndl came with one pocket. ONE! How infuriating is that? So yeah, I sewed. It’s amazing what you can do with YouTube and an old pillowcase. I’m basically the MacGyver of fashion.
- You have an entire internet’s worth of designs and colors to choose from.
- You don’t have to waste precious drinking time in a store sweating in borrowed wool.
CONS OF PURCHASING AHEAD OF TIME
- Depending on where you buy it, there’s a chance the quality could be… ehh… less than magnificent.
- There’s a good chance you’ll be one of many wearing that exact getup.
- Neither of those really matters anyway because BEER FESTIVAL.
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WHERE TO BUY DIRNDLS ONLINE
Because if you can buy pre-filled communion cups and a cookbook of placenta recipes on Amazon, you sure as shit can buy your dirndl there. Stay away from anything that looks like something Miley Cyrus would wear to an award show and you’ll be fine. Here are some of my favorites for 2019:
- 2-piece Floral
- Awesome gold and silver one
- Beautiful silver!
- Gorgeous green/teal/gold (⇠ OMG love this one.)
ALPENCLASSICS (known in some circles at Stockerpoint)| The only problem with this site is you’ll want every last one of ’em. This is where I bought my dirndl for Oktoberfest 2016, shown in the 2nd photo of this post. You can filter by length, purchase the blouse separately, and even hit up the sale rack–says the girl who’s currently wearing a shirt that cost $1.99. Here are some of my favorites for 2019 from Alpenclassics:
RARE DIRNDL | If you’re in the Chicago (or anywhere in close proximity to a mailbox) area, Rare Dirndl has fabulous dirndls made right here in the USA. They offer free shipping, free returns, and–the bomb diggity–custom made dirndls. Erika, the owner, personally designs all of these and they are truly unique.
Rare Dirndl just dropped a brand new collection of dirndls all inspired by travel and featuring dirndls inspired by YOURS TRULY! This is way better than seeing your name in lights, let me tell ya. Check out the Girls Who Travel collection here.
Dirndls inspired by my wanderlusty trips:
SOME OTHER ONLINE RETAILERS I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE WITH
BUYING YOUR DIRNDL IN MUNICH
PROS OF BUYING DIRNDLS IN MUNICH
- You bought it in Munich! That makes it, unlike some of the cleavage you’ll see these two weeks, the real deal.
- You can try it on before you buy it. I have friends who buy clothes all the time without trying them on. And to them I say, “Sumthin’ wrong wich you!” In the case of 2016 when I purchased my dirndl online, I already knew my sizes/measurements. I also KNEW I’d need alterations so I bought it well in advance. However, if this is your first experience purchasing a dirndl, you may need in-person help from a saleswoman who knows nothing of modesty and speaks no English.
CONS OF BUYING DIRNDLS IN MUNICH
- In Munich… during Oktoberfest… expect to pay a lot more for your dirndl than you would online.
- Availability is limited. Possibly in your size, the colors you like, your desired price range, and especially dolla billz in your wallet.
- You have to take precious time out of your packed vacation/drinking schedule for shopping. I can’t think of anything worse. Except maybe…
- No time for alterations. Maybe I could’ve stuffed my bra a little more but had I not been able to add a second pocket to my dirndl I would have LOST. MY. MIND. I may need to seek counseling–I’m aware of this.
WHERE TO BUY DIRNDLS IN MUNICH
ORIGINAL STEINDL | Located just off the Marienplatz where all the shops are. If there’s a guy playing the accordion or a group of dudes banging on buckets nearby, you’re in the right place. This is where I bought my first dirndl way back in 2012.
A saleswoman approached me, speaking no English whatsoever. I led her outside and pointed to one of the dirndls in the window display that I liked. She looked me up and down, boobs to ankles, then disappeared. She came back with all the pieces in the EXACT right sizes that fit me PERFECTLY. I was in and out in a matter of minutes. Side note: This was May, not September.
I love the selection here but some sizes may only have two or three options and not every design is available in every size. Just like, when are we gonna get teacup elephants?
GALERIA KAUFHOF | Think of it as the German Macy’s that’s also near the Marienplatz. Up the escalators to the 2nd floor (I believe, please correct me if I’m wrong) is the women’s dirndl department. Excuse me, the person’s dirndl department, as we’ve so learned. Could buying a dirndl be any simpler? Not to mention your bath towels and spatulas and men’s wallets aren’t that far away either!
ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE
If there’s one thing Munich, Germany does superbly after beer and brats for breakfast, it’s dirndl pop-up shops. Small (but often pricey) dirndl shops are more prevalent throughout the city during Oktoberfest than college undergrads who have “totally lost their friends omigod!”
There are a few near the Marienplatz, some in the Hauptbahnhof train station, but the most I saw were on the walk from the Theresienwiese to Hauptbahnhof. This short walk will yield more cleavage-producing dresses than a stroll down the Vegas strip.
WHAT *NOT* TO WEAR TO OKTOBERFEST
What not to wear at Oktoberfest is almost as important as what to wear at Oktoberfest – because wearing the wrong thing can potentially get yo ass kicked out. For instance:
DO NOT WEAR A COSTUME
I’ve already covered how you should never wear a cheesy, mocking Halloween “Octoberfest” costume to Oktoberfest, with a k. But what I mean here is any other kind of costume. You may be able to make it into the Theresienwiese wearing a Carry Me to Oktoberfest costume or even dressed as Jesus (both things I saw in 2018), but you WILL NOT be allowed into any of the beer tents. And those scary, Terminator-looking security guards will not be happy as they throw your ass out into the street, Uncle Phil/Jazzy Jeff-style.
DO NOT BRING A BIG BAG
Backpacks, big purses, and other large bags are prohibited from entering Oktoberfest. Have I been turned away at the gate because my purse was too big? Absolutely. Is it because I have no idea how big three liters is? Pretty much.
No purse over “3 liters” is allowed into Oktoberfest so just keep your purse as small as possible. Bring just the really important things: wallet, phone, hotel room key, chapstick, etc. There are enough tubas there—you can leave yours behind.
Purchase something like the Travelon Anti-Theft Small Cross-Body Bag (many color options) that works PERFECTLY plus has the added benefit of being a great, theft-proof purse for all your other travels.
And for Oktoberfest 2019, I just purchased this fanny pack because sometimes I’m just sick of straps. It pretty much hides itself under my dirndl apron, but the real question is whether or not people will actually think I work there. Being handed wads of cash from strangers? Not the worst thing that could happen.
WHAT TO JUST BUY THERE
There are many ways to accessorize your dirndl when deciding how to dress for Oktoberfest, but, some things are just better when purchased there. Let your drunk-ass conscience be your guide.
German is fun, no? I don’t actually know what glupperl stands for, but wiesn glupperls are the clothespins you see people (myself included) wearing that say various things. You can buy these pre-made with different words/phrases on them or you can get them personally made. They sell them at stands in the beer tents, they sell them through people walking around in the beer tents, and they sell them at souvenir stands out on the Wiesn.
I got mine made at a stand just inside the gates to Oktoberfest (on the left) and I chose an edelweiss + my name because I’m a dainty little girl. The words are actually burned into the clothespin and the whole process takes 10 seconds.
A popular piece of headwear (I’m assuming for the hairstyle-handicapped like myself) is a flower crown, ribbons galore. You can find them all over Oktoberfest along with…
FANCY BAVARIAN HAT
These bedazzled and be-feathered Bavarian/Alpine-style hats are a popular Oktoberfest souvenir and they come in ALL THE COLORS, with almost endless feather/decoration options. You’ll want one–trust me.
The lubkuchenherz (gingerbread heart cookies) are totally optional but be advised you can eat it in a moment of dire starvation. But will there be a moment of dire starvation after your second or third liter of lager? Yes, yes, a million times, YES!
WHAT ELSE TO PACK FOR GERMANY
Oktoberfest is great and all (okay, it’s THE GREATEST), but I hope you stick around and spend some more time in Germany! Regardless of how long you stay, here are some things to add to your Oktoberfest packing list:
- European plug adapter | So many times these are forgotten until you arrive! And what a pain in the ass that is. (Also, you’ll want to get a bunch for all your plug-inables.)
- Sunglasses | Those years when the weather is beautiful, the outdoor beer gardens at Oktoberfest are a great place to hang out. But… they’re uncovered. Don’t forget your sunglasses!
- Ibuprofen | It’s a beer festival; of course you’re going to need your preferred headache recovery method.
- Germany guidebook | For all the sightseeing and eating and drinking you’ll be doing outside the Wiesn.
- Pocket-sized German language book | Because it’s fun to immerse yourself.
And, WHATEVER YOU DO, do not forget your travel insurance. Need I remind you again that Oktoberfest is a beer festival? The world’s largest beer festival? HAVE FUN!!
WHAT GETS YOU MOST EXCITED FOR OKTOBERFEST?
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